Friday, June 30, 2017

So Who Takes Over After Pelosi-- Hopefully, No One Being Talked About Inside The Beltway


As we've discussed before, the alternatives to Pelosi as House Democratic leader are dismal-- or worse than dismal. David Hawkings floated a prototypical "fake news" story for Roll Call yesterday, Six Who Could Succeed Pelosi-- Someday. The list is ghastly-- a warning to anyone with a bit of sense, kind of reminiscent of Louis XV's warning to restive Frenchmen after the catastrophic Battle of Rossbach in 1757, when he is said to have said, "Après moi, le déluge."

In theory, if Pelosi were to step down, her successor-- which is keeping her from retiring-- would be Steny Hoyer, the man from K Street. Pelosi turned 77 in March. Hoyer turned 78 two weeks ago. The third in command, at least in theory, is Jim Clyburn who will be 77 in 3 weeks. So who's the next generation? And how soon will this have to be dealt with? Hawkings assures us that the post-special election "burst of frustration and pique vented" by House Dems towards Pelosi "appears to have fizzled." Politico's Kyle Cheney agreed and endeavored to explain why Pelosi isn't going anywhere. "How quickly the chatter turns into any concrete campaigning," wrote Hawkings, "is open to conjecture. Probably, it is not at all imminent." Cheney wrote that "House Democrats are acknowledging there’s virtually no chance she’s going anywhere before the 2018 congressional elections-- more than 16 months away-- despite a sense of unrest and scattered calls for Pelosi’s resignation as Democratic leader."

What many people miss in this approaching end of an era is, as Hawkings put it, many of those most eager to push her out are "identifying her polarizing liberalism as central to their dispiriting special election losses in Georgia and elsewhere." Key words: "her liberalism."
A roster of half a dozen potential successors emerged during conversations in the last week with a demographically diverse score of House Democrats, or more than 10 percent of them, as well as with a smattering of former members and political consultants. But in all those interviews, conducted with the promise of anonymity, only the names of six lawmakers were volunteered at least three times.

“We have a very short bench, and anyone who says to the contrary is not being candid,” offered Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri.

And all of the lawmakers were described in the context of identifying the next generation of leaders who would step up if Pelosi steps aside-- with none of them labeled as someone currently capable of toppling her from the perch she’s held for 14 years and five months.

Five are currently on the Pelosi leadership team: Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York, his deputy Linda T. Sánchez of California, House campaign organization chairman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and two members tapped by Pelosi last fall to reshape party messaging, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Cheri Bustos of Illinois. The outlier and sole dissident is Tim Ryan of Ohio, who got one-third of his colleagues to vote for his snap challenge to Pelosi last fall.

Last week’s soft launch of the coup plotters’ quest was underscored by Pelosi’s defiant, almost taunting retort to the critics. “When it comes to personal ambition and having fun on TV, have your fun,” she said. “My decision about how long I stay is not up to them.”

Instead, she told reporters, her reputation as both “a master legislator” and a fundraising juggernaut make her “very confident” she’ll have continuing support from a vast majority of the 194 members of the Democratic Caucus-- even as another election cycle begins in which she’ll be the target of derision in hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads against other Democratic candidates. “I think I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly,” she said.

Given her proven ability to count votes, the safe bet is she’s not bluffing at the moment. It’s also not readily apparent what other political or legislative events on the horizon could prompt a new and deeper groundswell among her colleagues to move her out-- especially in advance of the next leadership election, which will be held a few weeks after the 2018 midterms.

No Democratic leader has been deposed in the middle of a term since the modern House leadership structure was created at the start of the 20th century, and it’s not clear how a vote of no confidence in her caucus might be called.

So, when Pelosi leaves the top job, the odds are strong it will be on her own terms-- resigning as leader effective at the end of a Congress, most likely in conjunction with her retirement as the congresswoman for San Francisco. (She won her House seat in a special election 30 years ago this month and has until March, just before her 78th birthday, to decide whether to cruise into a 16th full term.)

...The lawmaker who posed the biggest potential threat for decades was Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland-- a rival during a summer Hill internship they shared in the 1960s, and four decades later, the vanquished opponent in the whip’s race that launched her leadership career. But since 2003, when he became her No. 2 in the House hierarchy, it’s become increasingly clear Hoyer was only preparing to move up to No. 1 as her successor, not as an insurrectionist. And now, having turned 78 this month, even his biggest House Democratic fans say his time has passed, and that an orderly succession will surely bring an emphatic statement about turning to new blood from a younger generation.

Of the names that surfaced last week, four are in their 40s and the others are in their 50s. Three have been in office less than a decade and three for the better part of two decades.

Two are women, two are Hispanic, one is African-American and two are Anglo men-- a diversity reflecting the fact that, since 2015, those who exercised hegemonic control over the Capitol for two centuries have slipped into plurality, but no longer majority, status among House Democrats.

Hawkings doesn't mention that one is a closeted gay person. Nobody's talkin'-- since in 2017 only Republicans are closeted, I guess. And then he listed "the current crop of leading possibilities," starting with Cheri Bustos (IL), who he doesn't mention is a virulent, toxic Blue Dog on the far right fringe of the party and a protégée of Rahm Emanuel's. Nor does he mention that very few members take her seriously and that are chances of becoming leader, according to one member I spoke to today are about the same as "any random member becoming leader." She likes to push the fact that Trump won her district and she was still reelected. She doesn't point out that her "opponent" was a vanity candidate, Patrick Harlan, who didn't even spend the $5,000 it would have taken to trigger an FEC report, while she spent $2,103,465 on the race. Her point is that she's so brilliant and her brand of reactionary politics works in a Trump district. Well... one of the most outspoken progressives in Congress, a polar opposite of the wretched Bustos, is Matt Cartwright and he was reelected as well, despite Trump winning his district. Cartwright would make a far better leader of the House Dems on conceivable every level.

Next up on his list-- this was alphabetical-- was the probably Pelosi successor, Queens County machine boss, Wall Street whore, New Dem chieftain, Joe Crowley, who's never fought an election and who was saved by Pelosi from being reprimanded by the Ethics Committee for bribery. If-- as is likely-- he takes over, it will be mean the House Democratic Party has sunk to its lowest level in history. And he will. He's buying loyalty from members who vote almost entirely based on who pays them off. Nice.

Hakeem Jeffries has as much chance of becoming leader as Bustos but they had to include an African-American and... hey, why not Hakeem? AT least-- kind of like Pelosi-- he has a progressive voting record.

Ben Ray Luján? This has to be a joke...but he's on the list. What would his campaign slogan be? "I'll do for the caucus what I did for the DCCC?"

Tim Ryan, not as conservative as Bustos... but conservative enough to make the Democratic Party suck a lot more than it already does.

Linda Sánchez is basically progressive... but not a leader. I'm told she sits on the floor of Congress and plays video games. At least her ProgressivePunch score is an A, like Jeffries. These are their ProgressivePunch lifetime crucial vote scores:
Linda Sánchez- 95.42 (A)
Hakeem Jeffries- 93.02 (A)
Joe Crowley- 85.26 (C)
Ben Ray Luján- 80.04 (D)
Tim Ryan- 77.92 (D)
Cheri Bustos- 47.90 (F)
At least Wasserman Schultz is-- at least for now-- disgraced and out of the running. She's try to claw-- and bribe-- her way back; count on that. Suggestions for how the make the House Democratic Party vibrant, effective, meaningful and inspiring:

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Ted Lieu (D-CA)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Judy Chu (D-CA)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)

In another year or two we'll be able to add Ro Khanna to the list. And Randy Bryce.


Ever Wonder Exactly How Much Your Life Is Worth To A U.S. Senator? Mitch McConnell’s Slush Fund 13 Has The Answer


-by Noah

Unless you are completely brain dead or completely delusional, you know that Washington is a monument to corruption on a grand scale. It’s no secret that most people, regardless of party, who go into national politics do so to hop on board the gravy train of corporate graft. That makes the few that aren’t corrupt possibly qualified for some kind of minor sainthood and/or gluttons for punishment. They are lucky they aren’t burned at the stake out on the steps of the Capitol building.

Money in politics is an evil thing but the efforts of McConnell and his accomplices to use it in the service of human misery on a huge scale break new ground. I wrote on Sunday that the Republican Party’s healthcare bill isn’t a healthcare bill at all. Rather, it is a bill designed to create a slush fund for future “campaign contributions”, ie, bribes.

Republicans tell us that we can’t afford healthcare because of “the deficit” (Remember Cheney saying “Deficits don’t matter”?). If they really saw “the deficit” as a problem, Republicans would not be taking that 800 Billion out of our existing healthcare to pay for a handout to their wealthy and Big Pharma and insurance corporation benefactors who, in turn, will hand some of it back in the form of the previously mentioned “campaign contributions” at voting time. Obviously, it’s money being used to create a slush fund for that purpose. And, it’s all money that originally came from our tax dollars. If “the deficit” was really the issue and they hated Obamacare, they would just take the money out of our healthcare and put it back into the U.S. Treasury. Case closed.

Really deserving of burning at the stake, of course, are the corrupt $enators and so-called Representatives who make up the vast majority of Congress and lie about just who they are there to represent. Unfortunately, burning this much larger group isn’t legal and would cause a nationwide shortage of lighter fluid during prime backyard grilling season.

“I’m going to take care of everybody”, said Grifter-in-Chief Donald J. Trump. The gullible believed him. The insane still do. Sadly, none of them have enough critical thinking ability to ask themselves precisely what their psychotic Trumpanzee meant by “everybody” when he spoke of “Trumpcare.” By now, they should.

Here’s a list of what each of the McConnell Slush Fund 13, some of the very worst or the worst swine of Washington, got for their efforts to take away “healthcare” from 22 Million Americans and tell them to just get sick and die. You should consider the amounts on this list to be only a down payment since much more will be coming their way; and still even more if the republican bill becomes law.
Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)- $471,560
Addison “Mitch” McConnell (R-KY)- $433,400
Rob Portman (R-OH)- $382,100
Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA)- $354,100
Andrew Lamar Alexander (R-TN)- $228,100
John Cornyn (R-TX)- $180.050
Cory Gardner (R-CO)- $151,850
John Barrasso (R-WY)- $149,750
Mike Enzi (R-WY)- $146,600
John Thune (R-SD)- $123,400
Mike Lee (R-UT)- $66,750
Ted Cruz (R-TX-) $58,895
Tom Cotton (R-AR)- $28,941
The total of the “campaign contributions” on the above list comes to $2,776,012. That’s an average take of $214,000 per slimeball. The amount is nearly double the average ($115,000) of what $enators not included in writing the bill got, so, I think we can see why head slimeball, Mitch McConnell, chose the ones he chose for his all male revue tasked with writing the bill (along with his K Street lobbyist buddies).

As I write this, the U.S. and World Population Clock indicates that the population of the United States is 325,329,274 people. Dividing $214,000 by 325,329,274 gives us a total of $0.00065779509. There’s no coin or paper currency for that but, to the Slush Fund 13, this is what each of us is worth.

Of course, if you want to factor in more $enators, the above figure will go down. And, then, you could add in some Hou$e of Rep$ devils, too, and why not Trump as well? That will reduce our individual value to Congress to the size of an average bacterium. That is what we are to them, folks.

Taking healthcare away from 22 Million Americans is slam dunk evil. So is making healthcare unaffordable to millions more. It’s the ultimate nihilism, a nihilism that festers at the core of what it is to be a republican. The proper perspective to see the end result of Trump and his Republican Party’s dream is that it would deliberately cause a humanitarian catastrophe that would make Katrina look like a hangnail by comparison. How many would die? How many millions would go without chemo? How many preventable heart attacks? How many millions would be thrown out of nursing homes? How many children would be stillborn?

There’s an insurance company out there that says we’re in good hands. I don’t think so.

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Two Dozen Democrats Join The House Republican Xenophobia Caucus


Yesterday, Bob Goodlatte's racist, xenophobic, Trumpist Kate's Law (H.R. 3004) passed the House. It should have been called O'Reilly's Law, since it was all his idea. In fact, the House passed two Trumpist garbage bills yesterday-- Kate's Law and Goodlatte's No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (H.R. 3003).
The House passed two bills Thursday to boost President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.

The bills-- "Kate’s Law" and the "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act"-- would up the penalties on undocumented immigrants who attempt to reenter the country illegally after being deported for crimes and slash funds from cities that protect them.

Kate's Law passed 257-167, largely along party lines, in the GOP-controlled House. Trump, who made immigration a key focus during the campaign and in his administration, celebrated its passage.
Well, not entirely. 24 Democrats-- mostly from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- voted with the GOP. Hoyer granted them dispensation to "vote their consciences." In theory, the Democrats whipped against the bill, but Hoyer made it clear he didn't really care if they crossed the aisle or not. He explained that "the public’s perception of allowing people to come back in, commit crimes and not have a more serious sentence [could harm vulnerable Democrats]. You talk to the families who have been adversely affected by that, it is a wrenching experience. Members believe that that’s pretty serious business, [and] I agree with that."

Among the Democrats voting no were a dozen of the most conservative, Republican-oriented members of the caucus, all of whom have "F" ratings from ProgressivePunch:
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Charlie Crist (Blue Dog-FL)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Val Demings (New Dem-FL)
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Anne Kuster (New Dem-NH)
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
Republicans tried passing the bill in 2016 and it was killed in the Senate, something that will probably happen again this year.
Many Democrats panned the legislation, calling it anti-immigrant and saying it would stoke fear.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), called the measure "callous and irrational."

Others said it could target legal immigrants.
Just two of the Democrats who crossed the aisle to vote with the GOP on this have serious primary challenges this cycle, Kyrsten Sinema and Chicagoland Blue Dog Dan Lipinski. Marie Newman, the progressive opposing Lipinski, was disappointed, but not really surprised by Lipinski's vote. "This is another clear indication Congressman Lipinski is in lockstep with President Trump on immigration and his xenophobic views," she told us after the vote. "I am beyond disappointed with Mr. Lipinski’s anti-immigrant views. Mr. Lipinski views are wrong and are not consistent with progressive Democratic values. This legislation is very simply a way to demonize immigrants. Mr. Lipinski is deeply wrong and I will fight this type of stereotyping and discrimination tirelessly if I am elected. This is not just unacceptable, it is anti-American." If you agree with her, please consider contributing to her campaign here.

Katie Hill is running for Congress in Southern California against a Republican incumbent who has never-- in his entire legislative career (in the state Assembly, state Senate and now the House-- seen an anti-immigrant bill that he didn't embrace. In a district with a strong and vibrant Hispanic community, Steve Knight has dedicated his career in politics to making their lives as difficult as possible. Katie pointed out that "elected officials chose to vote for this bill not because they believe it is good policy, but because they care more about getting re-elected than the lives that will be impacted. It is further proof of how broken our system is when 'vote your conscience' actually means 'vote to get re-elected.' The discussion we need to have around immigration is hard, and we're dealing with so much fear mongering that it's easy to see how someone from a more moderate or swing district might be scared into voting for this. But we need to bring that discussion back to values, and the bottom line is that most people understand what it means to help their neighbors. It's up to us as progressives to protect and champion our values as a country and a community, no matter what kind of district you live in. Truly embracing those values and enacting them every day is the only way we overcome hatred or fear or divisiveness and start moving forward again."

Goal Thermometer It won't surprise you to know that the xenophobes and extremists at the so-called "Freedom Caucus" are big proponents of these kinds of policies and that their leader, Mark Meadows, doesn't just vote for this kind of counterproductive legislation, but does all he can to make bills like this as harsh and punitive as possible. His opponent in 2018 is progressive activist/farmer/Berniecrat Matt Coffay. Matt, would have voted NO. He told us this morning that "These bills are a disaster, and do nothing to address actual immigration issues in this country. Here in the U.S., we have millions of undocumented workers-- many of whom pay taxes-- who work hard, and deserve a path to citizenship. In my district here in Western North Carolina, farmers are already feeling the effects of Trump's immigration policies: many undocumented workers are afraid to show up for seasonal harvests for fear of an ICE raid, and family farmers are hurting as a result. The bottom line is that we need comprehensive immigration reform that will provide hardworking immigrants with a path to citizenship."

Ro Khanna (D-CA) told us that "Kate's law furthers the stereotype that anyone undocumented is criminal. The law is a pillar of Trump's anti-immigrant agenda. It criminalizes immigrants entering the United States legally if they have a past technical violation, and it goes after even those who come to escape persecution. There is a reason the Hispanic Caucus in Congress strongly opposed this bill."

Although Anne Kuster voted for it in a much bluer district, Carol Shea Porter, in a district Trump won, took a more courageous and principled stand in opposition:
“Today, I voted against H.R.3004, or ‘Kate’s Law,’ which is opposed by dozens of religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, the Church World Service, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance, the New Hampshire Conference United Church of Christ Immigration Working Group, the American Friends Service Committee, T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

“Let me be clear: the killing of Kate Steinle was a horrible and inexcusable crime, and my heart goes out to her family and loved ones. This should never have happened. We must investigate the breakdown in policy that led to Kate’s tragic death. This bill would, however, have serious negative consequences by increasing the likelihood that innocent asylum seekers, trafficking victims, and other non-criminal immigrants will be imprisoned. These victims would be in trouble if they presented themselves at ports of entry to seek help.

“I also voted against H.R.3003, which the US Conference of Mayors strongly opposed and the Fraternal Order of Police said would unjustly ‘penalize law enforcement and the citizens they serve because Congress disagrees with their enforcement priorities with respect to our immigration laws.’ We must stand up for proper funding for law enforcement. It is unjust to jeopardize our local police agencies, which are already underfunded and understaffed. The policies this bill seeks to end are designed to improve trust in law enforcement and help our police officers do their jobs effectively. We should not take away local communities’ and law enforcement agencies’ ability to decide how to do their jobs.”
Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) led the opposition and he reminded his colleagues that "ever since Donald Trump descended the golden escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy by saying Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers and drug dealers, the Republican Party has had Mexican fever. And they have been working feverishly to paint immigrants as criminals. And when something goes bad, they go back to their old favorite. When Trump’s Muslim Ban was blocked in the Courts, out came the Attorney General to say they were doing more roundups and that no immigrant was safe. Is the Russia investigation not going so good for the Dear Leader? Hey, let’s whip out that Mexican thing, as Vice President Pence said. Maybe it will keep our voters happy and distracted. And now that the Republican health care bill is on the ropes and suffering from a 17 percent approval rating, here we are back on bashing immigrants. It is about feeding a steady diet of scapegoating to voters – even the President’s base voters-- who are starting to realize that things are not going so well. Almost 8 out of 10 Latinos are citizens of the United States and 1 out of 10 are legal permanent residents. That leaves about 1 in 10 who are undocumented, but this policy is about going after all of them. These bills are nothing new and they are not really about immigration or fighting crime. They are about racial profiling and putting Latinos, quote/unquote-- 'in our place.' Latinos, African-Americans, people of color, Muslims, and many others know what being in the cross hairs looks like. 99 percent of the votes for this bill today will come from people who do not have to worry about racial profiling for themselves or their children. And they represent Districts where most of their constituents don’t have to worry about racial profiling. But let’s be clear, Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona is the poster-child for the kinds of policies the Republicans want to impose on every city and county in the country and we know the result:"
Arpaio embodies racial profiling and rounding up people because they are brown and-- oh, we’ll sort out their papers later-- whether they are citizens or legal permanent residents or whatever. I have talked to US citizens who were detained by Arpaio because they didn’t carry with them their birth certificate or passport at all times-- in their own country.

And Arpaio has been sued successfully to stop his racial profiling and he has been charged criminally for his racial profiling tactics and still, the Republicans in the House want that to be the law everywhere.

Sometimes Democrats have to stand up for justice and against racial profiling when it is the right thing to do and the chips are down. Well, the chips are down and every Latino family and every immigrant is going to remember who stood up for them when they needed Democrats to fight to keep their families together.

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Is The DCCC Starting To Re-Think Its Hands Off Approach Towards Paul Ryan?


One of the biggest shocks of the 2016 election was Trump winning Wisconsin. He was the first Republican to win the state since 1984 when Reagan was reelected, defeating Walter Mondale 54.19% to 45.02%. Since then, Michael Dukakis beat George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton won both times he ran, Al Gore beat George W. Bush, John Kerry beat George W. Bush, Obama beat McCain 56.22% to 42.31%, and Obama beat Romney 52.83% to 45.89%. Trump didn't do much better than Romney-- just 47.9%-- but Hillary underperformed Obama significantly-- 46.9%. Trump beat her statewide 1,490,282 to 1,381,893. Bernie would have been a far better candidate against Trump, not just having beaten Clinton 56.6% to 43.1% statewide but winning far more votes than Trump on primary day. Bernie's total primary vote in Wisconsin was 567,936 to Trump's 386,370. Of the state's dozen biggest counties, Trump beat Bernie in just one, blazing red, crazy Waukesha:
Brown (Green Bay)- Bernie- 22,471; Trumpanzee- 18,705
Dane (Madison)- Bernie-102,585; Trumpanzee- 20,884
Eau Claire- Bernie- 13,058; Trumpanzee- 6,505
Kenosha- Bernie- 14,612; Trumpanzee- 11,139
La Crosse- Bernie- 15,139; Trumpanzee- 8,271
Milwaukee- Bernie- 93,714; Trumpanzee- 29,516
Outagamie (Appleton)- Bernie- 16,985; Trumpanzee- 13,848
Racine- Bernie 14,651; Trumpanzee- 11,756
Rock (Janesville)- Bernie- 17,337; Trumpanzee- 10,264
Sheboygan- Bernie- 8,537; Trumpanzee- 6,532
Waukesha- Bernie- 26,339; Trumpanzee- 27,186
Winnebago- Bernie- 17,818; Trumpanzee- 13,293

This week Marquette University's Law School released their latest state polling of registered voters--not great news for Republicans on any level. Trump's disapproval is up to 51% and his approval is steady at 41%. As for Obamacare, 54% say they want to keep it and improve it, 6% want to keep it as is (so that's 60% total) while 27% want it repealed and replaced and 7% want it repealed and not replaced (34% total).
While details of a replacement for the 2010 health care reform law are currently being debated, 49 percent of respondents think a replacement law will decrease the number of people who have health insurance, 23 percent think the number of insured will not change and 20 percent think a replacement law will increase the number of insured people. That is little changed from March, before the House of Representatives passed its health care bill, when 49 percent thought a replacement would reduce coverage, 25 percent thought coverage would not change and 18 percent thought more people would be covered.

Forty-seven percent think a health care replacement bill will increase the cost of health insurance, 17 percent think the cost will not change and 29 percent think costs will decrease under a replacement bill. In March, 45 percent thought cost would rise, 21 percent thought there would be no change and 28 percent thought costs would go down under a replacement bill.
So what about Paul Ryan? Statewide polling isn't that important for him because only the voters in his own district get to decide on his fate-- and we'll get back to that in a moment. But, statewide, the Marquette poll found that Ryan holds a 44% favorable to 44% unfavorable rating. In October, 45% were favorable and 38% unfavorable. In his own district, though, the story is a little different. PPP polled voters in WI-01 and this is what they found:

This could lead an even greater 2018 Wisconsin upset than the 2016 Wisconsin upset. Speakers rarely lose. For over a decade, a pusillanimous DCCC has been adamant about not going after Ryan. This time local activists have found their own candidate and told the DCCC to either get on board or go go fuck off. The DCCC had already decided to ignore Wisconsin for 2017. But the Randy Bryce-Paul Ryan race is starting to shape up as the hottest race in the country. The DCCC rethinking the situation. A Ben Ray Lujan staffer told me he attended a recruitment committee meeting Wednesday and Randy Bryce's video was shown, generally blowing everyone's mind. I'll believe it when I see it, but I'm starting to hear whispers that the DCCC might drop its longstanding hands off policy towards Ryan. Meanwhile, I want to recommend two fantastic new pieces on the race, one by John Light for Bill Moyers and one by Sarah Jaffe for Truthout. Light:
Segments of the political left are hungry for a candidate who will not just attack Republicans, but who will do so while articulating a positive political agenda. This hunger only grew following the Georgia special election, during which donors threw $23 million behind Jon Ossoff, a candidate who, by the end of the race, didn’t seem to stand for much at all. In an interview with the New Republic’s Sarah Jones last week, Bryce reaffirmed his progressive politics, including his support for single-payer health care, the Fight for $15 movement, abortion access and LGBT rights.

...JL: Tell me some of the ways in which your view of your district and your district’s needs differs from Paul Ryan’s view.

Goal Thermometer RB: Well, to start, I’ve always been committed to standing with working people to get us as much as I can-- to get better wages, to get safe working conditions, to have access to health care. I’ve been an ironworker for 20 years and Paul Ryan has been in Congress about the same amount of time. I look at what’s happening with him in office, and I see all the good paying auto jobs leaving. General Electric, an entire factory-worth of some of the best-paying jobs in Waukesha County, is going up to Canada. And now, especially with this health care thing, he’s trying to make rich people richer, and strip us of our health care. It’s a very cruel thing that he’s doing to us.

JL: How do you think Democrats have been doing fending off the Republicans’ latest assault on Obamacare?

RB: I think we’re doing as good as possible considering that we’re definitely in the minority. People have been standing up, and that’s good to see. I like the fact that Democrats are saying that we want people to have health care and pointing out how this is being done behind closed doors. Even though Paul Ryan has been absent from the 1st District for the last 600 days, I give credit to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) for coming into the area. And I know it’s happening in other places too: Nearby Democratic congressmen are going into Republican areas and informing the people.

JL: Why do you think your first video prompted such a large response?

RB: Everybody saw themselves in it, and people want to be heard. That’s going on throughout the country. We want to be healthy, and we can’t be ourselves-- we can’t work, our kids can’t grow-- if we have to spend all of our time trying to get money for our elders to go see a doctor. It’s an intergenerational issue that effects everybody, regardless of where they live and where they’re from.

...JL: Let’s just say, hypothetically, that the Democrats retake Congress in 2018, and you’re one of the new members of Congress. What are three things you’d want to see your party do right away?

RB: The first thing is to make sure that everybody is covered by health care. I would be in favor of the Conyers bill [for “Medicare for All”].

The thing is, right now, I think we need to be careful. I’ve said “if somebody’s freezing, and they just have a bedsheet to cover them, you don’t strip the bedsheet away from them until they have a blanket.” We need to be able to provide access as much as we can until we get to that place [single-payer health care].

We need to get rid of this closed door that we have in the government-- the way that they’re passing laws is in secrecy, behind closed doors. We need transparency so that working people have trust in the government again.

And we need to make sure that every working person has a job. I spent time after the Army working two full-time jobs just to make ends meet. And you can’t raise a family like that or even have any time for yourself. So we need to make sure that all workers are paid a livable wage and don’t have to worry about flipping a coin to decide “should we pay rent or should we take our child to see a doctor?”

JL: You’ve mentioned that you’ve participated in events with the Fight for 15 campaign. You would push the $15 minimum in Congress?

RB: Absolutely. No person who works a full-time job should have to depend on any kind of government assistance. That’s corporate welfare and I’m completely against that.

JL: How does the fact that you’re a veteran inform your politics?

RB: It has me putting people over party. When I was in the Army, Ronald Reagan was president. And it was country first. You take care of this country and politics doesn’t play. It’s about defending the country.

Then, getting out, you have an appreciation for others that also served. If we’re having an event, if there’s a rally or something, and there’s people from the opposing viewpoint, I’ll seek out other veterans that have a Vietnam veteran hat or something like that. I’ll go over to them and I’ll thank them for their service and I’ll point out, “Even though we’re on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it’s because of our service that we can stand on opposite sides and shake hands right here.” That’s always a great ice breaker and everybody involved, on both sides, sees that and it defuses a lot of tensions. Right away you don’t feel as antagonistic.

JL: Wisconsin was in the headlines earlier this month because, as I’m sure you’re very aware, the state is heavily gerrymandered, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge related to Wisconsin’s gerrymandering. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Republicans had captured as many as 22 seats in Congress just by changing the way districts are drawn. How should the Democrats be pushing back against this?

RB: It’s definitely an issue. In Wisconsin, on the state level, there were thousands more votes for Democrats, yet Republicans gained more seats. There’s a fine line between demanding that justice be served and coming across as-- I don’t know if “whining” is the right word? Looking for an excuse? But overall, it’s wrong. It’s wrong that the representatives are able to choose who their voters are. The voters should be the ones choosing who their representatives are.

JL: When you announced your candidacy, Republicans pointed out that you’ve run for office before and lost. What’s your response to that?

RB: Well, we just talked about gerrymandering. The two times I ran were for State Assembly and State Senate-- and especially for the Senate, it was one of the most heavily gerrymandered districts in the state.

Both times I had been asked by elected representatives. The first time, it was the state minority leader in the Assembly who asked me to run. The local county party also had someone they wanted to run and there was a lack of communication. So I was running against someone that I really respected and liked. She was an Emerge graduate and she worked hard. She had a lot of support and deserved the victory. She went on to lose because it was a gerrymandered area.

And then, for the State Senate, I was asked to run because of the John Doe investigation of Scott Walker. It was a possibility that that was going to blow up that summer, and they wanted a good candidate in place if it did. Plus, it helped me get the message out to try and help Mary Burke, who was running for governor against Scott Walker. So, I knew what the probable outcome was going to be, but there were reasons I got in anyway-- in order to make someone fight for the seat.

JL: Paul Ryan won past elections by a healthy margin. Do you expect to attract some of his voters, or to turn out people who don’t tend to vote? Is there a certain type of voter you’re going after?

RB: I’ve already had people, like in the grocery store, who are Republican-leaning voters who know I’ll talk to them-- we have stuff in common-- come up and say, “Hey, I hear you’re running against Paul Ryan; I think that’s great.” We even had some union members who voted for Trump. They thought he was going to be really great for working people. But people are fed up. And all I have to say is, “Are you healthy? Look at Paul Ryan’s kids. They’re all healthy. They have great health care. He’s trying to take away your ability to see a doctor.” And he’s not here. He’s not here. So I’m reaching a lot of people. We’re definitely counting on turning up the vote. Just the way that our launch took off shows that there is excitement everywhere-- not just in this district, but across the country-- for people willing to stand up to see one of their own elected.

JL: A lot of people in the national media and political scientists are still trying to figure out the November election and Trump voters. What’s your view of Trump voters and the decision they made last election?

RB: He had a decent working person’s message. Somebody told him what to say to appeal to working people. Now I just tell the people that voted for him, “Nothing says ‘sticking it to the man’ like voting for a billionaire. How’s he helped you out?” And they’re like, “Well,” and they kind of hang their heads. He’s not doing anything. So there’s a lot of buyers’ remorse.

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The Harder The GOP Pushes For TrumpCare, The Closer We Get To Medicare-For-All


So now Trump is agreeing with far right extremists, like Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), that the way forward is to just repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement, which the CBO says will mean 32 million Americans will lose their healthcare immediately. These are really horrible, horrible people. A wealth of polls this week all showed the same thing: no one likes the Senate's TrumpCare bill. The PBS/Marist poll shows approval for McConnell's tax-cut bill disguised as healthcare at 18%. Quinnipiac's poll shows a 16% level of support. But what about that USA Today/Suffolk poll? 12% approval for TrumpCare. 12%.

And the American Medical Association hired 2 Republican polling firms to measure public opinion on the bill in 5 key states with fence-sitting Republican senators-- Alaska (18% support), Colorado (17% support), Nevada (18% support), Ohio (15% support) and West Virginia (19% support).

There aren't many senators who want vote for it-- less than half a dozen are committed-- and more than that are opposed. McConnell and Ryan are getting nervous now because what's starting to catch on is scrapping the Frankenstein's monster of a bill and going back to the table-- with the Democrats-- and hammering out a bipartisan bill that will be oriented towards fixing some flaws in Obamacare. Conservatives worry that this is the only way to stop the rapidly building momentum for single-payer or Medicare-for-All, an idea whose time finally seems to have come.

Ryan and McConnell and their circle haven't given up though-- they're offering bribes and sweeteners to lure more senators to vote for TrumpCare, the latest being a $45 billion fund to fight the primarily red state opioid crisis. This is the "big wonderful surprise in the healthcare" the moron Trumpanzee was babbling about earlier in the week.

Did you watch the Robbert Reich video up top? If not, now's the time. Reich's Medicare-For-All column Tuesday explains McConnell's immediate problem with the ridiculously dead-on-arrival insupportable TrumpCare bill, but skips to the next step: when will Congress get serious about single payer? "Over the next weeks or months," he insists, "Democrats must continue to defend the Affordable Care Act. It’s not perfect, but it’s a major step in the right direction. Over 20 million Americans have gained coverage because of it. But..."
Democrats also need to go further and offer Americans a positive vision of where the nation should be headed over the long term. That’s toward Medicare for all.

Some background: American spending on healthcare per person is more than twice the average in the world’s thirty-five advanced economies. Yet Americans are sicker, our lives are shorter, and we have more chronic illnesses than in any other advanced nation.

That’s because medical care is so expensive for the typical American that many put off seeing a doctor until their health has seriously deteriorated.

Why is healthcare so much cheaper in other nations? Partly because their governments negotiate lower rates with health providers. In France, the average cost of a magnetic resonance imagining exam is $363. In the United States, it’s $1,121. There, an appendectomy costs $4,463. Here, $13,851.

They can get lower rates because they cover everyone-- which gives them lots of bargaining power.

Other nations also don’t have to pay the costs of private insurers shelling out billions of dollars a year on advertising and marketing-- much of it intended to attract healthier and younger people and avoid the sicker and older.

Nor do other nations have to pay boatloads of money to the shareholders and executives of big for-profit insurance companies.

Finally, they don’t have to bear the high administrative costs of private insurers-- requiring endless paperwork to keep track of every procedure by every provider.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare’s administrative costs are only about 2 percent of its operating expenses. That’s less than one-sixth the administrative costs of America’s private insurers.

To make matters even worse for Americans, the nation’s private health insurers are merging like mad in order to suck in even more money from consumers and taxpayers by reducing competition.

At the same time, their focus on attracting healthy people and avoiding sick people is creating a vicious cycle. Insurers that take in sicker and costlier patients lose money, which forces them to raise premiums, co-payments, and deductibles. This, in turn, makes it harder for people most in need of health insurance to afford it.

This phenomenon has even plagued health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

Medicare for all would avoid all these problems, and get lower prices and better care.

It would be financed the same way Medicare and Social Security are financed, through the payroll tax. Wealthy Americans would pay a higher payroll tax rate and contribute more than lower-income people. But everyone would win because total healthcare costs would be far lower, and outcomes far better.]

If Republicans succeed in gutting the Affordable Care Act or subverting it, the American public will be presented with a particularly stark choice: Expensive health care for the few, or affordable health care for the many.

This political reality is already playing out in Congress, as many Democrats move toward Medicare for All. Most House Democrats are co-sponsoring a Medicare for All bill there. Senator Bernie Sanders is preparing to introduce it in the Senate. New York and California are moving toward statewide versions.

A Gallup poll conducted in May found that a majority of Americans would support such a system. Another poll by the Pew Research Center shows that such support is growing, with 60 percent of Americans now saying government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans-- up from 51 percent last year.

Democrats would be wise to seize the moment. They shouldn’t merely defend the Affordable Care Act. They should also go on the offensive-- with Medicare for all.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pelosi's DCCC Head, Ben Ray Luján, Is Under Investigation By The Ethics Committee


Ben Ray Luján is a pretty mediocre and unaccomplished congressman. For a guy in a perfectly safe seat, he sure has a nothing-burger of a voting record. Progressive Punch grades him a "D"-- better than an "F," but... come on. The district gave Obama a 57.5% to 38.7% win over Romney and even a weak candidate like Clinton managed a 51.8-36.7% win over Señor Trumpanzee. The PVI is D+8. Ben Ray's been in Congress since 2009 and hasn't accomplished anything at all. The former blackjack dealer's lifetime crucial vote score is around 80. He's never faced a difficult election battle... but leave it to Pelosi, who was determined to find a Hispanic to head the DCCC-- one who would heed her every command-- to appoint him to lead the fatally flawed organization when the spectacularly failed Steve Israel was finally forced to retire. Luján is one of the last remaining Democrats who still takes blood money from the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists.

Have you noticed any DCCC e-mails whining and wailing about how the evil, vile, contemptible, crooked Señor Trumpanzee hides his tax returns from public scrutiny? So does the chairman of the DCCC. Monday, the House Ethics Committee-- at the recommendation of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics-- announced they are investigating complaints that is Luján refusing to release his own tax returns. A Roll Call article on Monday, noting that many congressmemebers refuse to release their returns, focused on Luján because of the obvious high-profile hypocrisy. The article points out that he had posted that "transparency is a cornerstone of democracy" on his Facebook page. For others, apparently... but not for him.
Members of Congress should be held to a different standard, his spokesman said.

“Unlike individuals seeking the presidency, there is no tradition or precedent that necessitates the release of a member’s tax returns,” spokesman Joe Shoemaker said. “If Congressman Luján decides to run for President, CQ Roll Call will be among the first to whom we release his tax returns.”

...The reluctance among members of Congress to release their own tax returns raises questions about potential conflicts of interest. And it prevents voters from learning more about members’ personal financial decisions that could affect how they vote.
Republicans are unlikely to complain too much about Luján not releasing his taxes, since very few of them do either.

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The Republican War Against Science Moves Over To The Senate


Heitkamp & Manchin also voted to confirm Scott Pruitt to the EPA

Wednesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was tweeting about the dangers of the Senate passing a series of regulatory rollbacks that House conservatives already passed in January. Bob Goodlatte's predatory legislation was backed by every single Republican and 5 extremely corrupt and extremely vile Blue Dogs, Jim Costa (CA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Collin Peterson (MN) and Kurt Schrader (OR), all widely-known for selling their votes to corporate special interest lobbyists and laughing at the prospect of their low-info constituents ever figuring out who they really are. Peterson, in fact was the chief co-sponsor of Goodlatte's bill. The other co-sponsors were mostly notorious GOP bribe-takers like Mimi Walters (R-CA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Steve Chabot (R-OH).

Becerra said he was most concerned about the likelihood that if Trump signs the legislation it will obstruct the implementation of laws that protect Americans from toxic chemicals, predatory marketing practices, dangerous labor unsafe public health conditions, and unsafe food and drugs. He is joined in his protest by 11 other attorneys general (Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia).

Becerra wrote that "This Republican Congress is on course to loosen commonsense rules that keep an eye on industries willing to scam the American people or pollute our air and water. It takes us back to the days just a decade ago when Wall Street could use shady and sometimes illegal practices to make money. 8.4 million Americans lost their jobs and millions lost their homes because of the greed-inspired Great Recession."

The Senate version was introduced by Rob Portman (R-OH) and he managed to dig up two very conservative Democrats to co-sponsor it with him, Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), each of whom is on the hunt for corporate contributions for their reelection campaigns this cycle. When Portman and Heitkamp introduced their garbage bill in May, Yogin Kothari of the Center for Science and Democracy wrote that the legislation is bad for science (which helps explain why one of the House co-sponsors was GOP War Against Science leader Lamar Smith. Kothari wrote that the bill "would significantly disrupt our science-based rulemaking process... The RAA (Regulatory Accountability Act) will be felt by everyone who cares about strong protections and safeguards established by the federal government. Think about food safety, environmental safeguards, clean air, clean water, the toys that your kids play with, the car you drive, workplace safety standards, federal guidance on campus sexual assault, financial safeguards, protections from harmful chemicals in everyday products, and more. You name it, the Portman RAA has an impact on it."
The Portman RAA is at best a solution in search of a problem. It imposes significant (and new) burdensome requirements on every single federal agency charged with using science to protect consumers, public health, worker safety, the environment, and more at a time when Congress and the president are cutting agency resources. It also requires agencies to finalize the most “cost effective” rule, which sounds nice, but in practice is an impossible legal standard to meet and would most likely result in endless litigation. This requirement is emblematic of the overall thrust of the bill, a backdoor attempt to put the interests of regulated industries ahead of the public interest.

Basically, because there isn’t public support for repealing the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, and other popular laws that use evidence to protect the public interest (including civil rights and disabilities laws, worker protection laws, transportation safety laws, and more), the Portman RAA weakens the ability of agencies to implement these laws by rewriting the entire process by which safeguards for Americans are enacted. In doing so, the Portman RAA would impact everyone’s public health and safety, especially low-income communities and communities of color, which often face the greatest burden of health, environmental, and other safety risks.

...Here are 5 destructive provisions in the Portman RAA as they relate to science and science-based rulemaking. Bear with me as we take this journey into administrative law Wonkville.
1. The RAA ignores intellectual property, academic freedom, and personal privacy concerns.

S. 951 includes harmful language similar to the infamous HONEST Act (previously known as the Secret Science Reform Act) and applies it to every single agency. While the Portman RAA language (page 7 starting at line 19 and page 25 starting at line 14) includes some exemptions that address the criticisms UCS has made of the HONEST Act, the bill would still require agencies to publicly make available “all studies, models, scientific literature, and other information” that they use to propose or finalize a rule.

The exemptions fall considerably short because the language has zero protections for intellectual property of scientists and researchers who are doing groundbreaking work to keep America great. For most scientists, especially those in academia and at major research institutions, much of this work, such as specific computer codes or modeling innovations, is intellectual property and is crucial for advancement in scientific understanding as well as career advancement.

In effect, this provision of the Portman RAA would prevent agencies from using cutting-edge research because scientists will be reluctant to give up intellectual property rights and sacrifice academic freedom. In addition, many researchers don’t or can’t share their underlying raw data, at least until they have made full use of it in multiple publications.

Given that the research of scientists and the expertise built up by labs is their scientific currency, S. 951’s intellectual property and academic privacy language would lead to one of two outcomes:
One, it would stifle innovation, especially when it comes to public health and safety research, as many early career scientists may not want to publicly share their code or computer models and undermine their careers. Scientists could risk all their ideas and work being pirated through the rulemaking docket if a federal agency wanted to use their information as part of the basis for proposing and/or finalizing a regulation.
Two, agencies wouldn’t be able to rely on the best available science in their decision-making process because those who have the best information may not want to make their intellectual property public. And of course, agencies are required to propose and finalize regulations based on the best available science. This is even reaffirmed by the Portman RAA (more on that later). Thus, you have a catch-22.
Like the HONEST Act, this language fundamentally misunderstands the scientific process. There is no reason for anyone to have access to computer models, codes, and more, to understand the science. Industry understands this very well because of patent law and because of the trade secrets exemptions (industry data would be exempted from the same disclosure requirements as intellectual property and academic research) but there is no equivalent protection for scientists, whose basic goal is to advance understanding of the world and publish their work.

And while the exemptions attempt to ensure protections of private medical data, they do not go far enough. For example, agencies that rely on long-term public health studies to propose and finalize science-based regulations could still be forced to disclose underlying private health data related to a study participant’s location and more, all of which may lead to someone’s privacy being put at risk.

2. The RAA puts science on trial.

The Portman RAA provides an opportunity for industry to put the best available science that informs high-impact and major rules on trial. In a provision that reminds me of Senator Lankford’s radical BEST Act, S. 951 will give industry an opportunity to initiate an adversarial hearing putting science and other “complex factual issues that are genuinely disputed” on trial.

But what does it mean for science and other facts to be genuinely disputed? The RAA is silent on that point. Hypothetically, if an industry or any individual produces their own study or even an opinion without scientific validity that conflicts with the accepted science on the dangers of a certain chemical or product (say atrazine, e-cigarettes, chlorpyrifos pesticide, or lead), federal agencies charged with protecting the public using best available science would be forced to slow down an already exhaustive process. The thing is, you can always find at least one bogus study that disagrees with the accepted facts. If this provision had been around when the federal government was attempting to regulate tobacco, the industry would have been able to use it to create even more roadblocks by introducing bogus studies to dispute the facts and put a halt to the public health regulations.

This is just another way to elongate (and make less accessible to the public) an already exhaustive rulemaking process where everyone already can present their views through the notice-and-comment period. This provision plays up the “degree of uncertainty” that naturally exists in science, while ignoring a more sensible “weight of evidence” approach, which is exactly what opponents of science-based rulemaking want. This adversarial hearing process does nothing to streamline the regulatory process, but it does make it harder for federal agencies to finalize science-based public health, safety, and environmental protections. The Scopes-Monkey trial has already taught us that putting science on trial doesn’t work. It was a bad idea nearly 100 years ago, and it’s a bad idea today.

3. The RAA adds red tape to the science-based rulemaking process.

The Portman RAA, ironically, includes duplicitous language that requires proposed and final rules to be based on the “best reasonably available” science (page 8 lines 10-14 and page 25 lines 14-18). The thing is, this already happens. Many underlying authorizing statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, have this requirement, and to the extent that this bill is supposed to streamline the regulatory process, this appears to do the opposite. If anything, this is litigation bait for industry, meaning that the legally obscure language could be used to sue an agency and prevent science-based rulemakings to be implemented.

The thing is, anyone can already challenge the scientific basis of regulations since they are already required to be grounded in facts. This just rests upon a faulty assumption that agencies aren’t doing their jobs. The bottom line? Through this and other provisions, S. 951 adds redundancy and procedure when the supporters of the bill are claiming to get rid of it.

4. The RAA has imprecise language that could force burdensome requirements on agency science.

The Portman RAA uses vague language to define agency “guidance” (page 2, lines 14-16) that could be interpreted to encompass agency science documents, such as risk assessments. For example, if an agency conducts a study on the safety of a chemical, finds a health risk associated and publishes that document, would that study be subject to the burdensome RAA requirements on guidance (i.e. go through a cost-benefit analysis)? The language is ambiguous enough that this remains an open question.

Furthermore, by adding additional requirements for guidance documents, such as cost-benefit analysis, it would make it harder for regulators to be nimble and flexible to explain policy decisions that don’t have the binding effect of law, or to react to emerging threats. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has frequently used guidance documents to quickly communicate to the public and healthcare providers about the risks associated with the Zika virus, an emerging threat that required a swift response from the federal government. Just imagine the amount of time it would take for the CDC to effectively respond to this type of threat in the future if the agency was forced to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on this type of guidance.

Overall, many agencies use guidance as a means of explaining how they interpret statutory mandates. Because they don’t have the effect of law, they can be easily challenged and modified. The new hurdles simply prolong the guidance process and make it more difficult for agencies to explain interpretations of their legal mandates.

5. The RAA increases the potential for political interference in agency science.

The Portman RAA would give the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) the power to establish one set of guidelines for risk assessments for all of the federal science agencies (page 33 lines 16-18). The thing is, this one-size-fits-all idea is unworkable. Individual agencies set guidelines for risk assessments they conduct because different issues require different kinds of analysis. OIRA is filled with economists who are not scientific experts that can appropriately understand public health and environmental threats. Under this bill, OIRA would also determine the criteria for what kinds of scientific assessments should be used in rulemaking. This office should not have the responsibility to put forward guidelines dictating agency science. This is a clear way to insert politics into a science-based decision. My colleague Genna Reed will be expanding on this point specifically later this week because of how troubling this provision is.
For a proposal that is aimed at streamlining the regulatory process, the question must be asked, for whom? If anything, the Portman RAA grinds the issuance of science-based protections to a halt, and adds additional red-tape to a process that is already moving at a glacial pace.

The bottom line is that this latest version of the RAA, albeit different from previously introduced versions in the Senate and somewhat distinct from the House-passed H.R. 5, leads to the same outcome in reality: a paralysis by analysis at federal agencies working to protect the public from health and environmental threats and a potential halt to the issuance of new science-based standards to ensure access to safe food, clean air and clean drinking water, and other basic consumer protections.

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